Tue, May 09, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Minister breaks down at legislature

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of Transportation and Communications Kuo Yao-chi (郭瑤琪) broke down in tears at a meeting of the legislature's Transportation Committee yesterday after being criticized by lawmakers over delays in the construction of some train stations.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Shih-cheng (王世堅) said that construction of Wurih (烏日) Train Station in Taichung County and a bridge in Houlong (後龍), Miaoli County were already behind schedule when the Public Construction Commission inspected them last August.

Kuo was then chairwoman of the commission.

Wang said construction in Wurih was supposed to have been finished by the end of last August, but construction commission officials found on Aug. 19 that only 25 percent of construction work was complete.

Seventy-five percent of the bridge in Houlong Town should have been completed at around the same time last year, but only 50 percent had been done, he said, adding that commission officials gave both projects higher than average gradings after initial inspections.

Wang said that the constructions delays might affect the start date of the operation of the high-speed rail.

Kuo has said she would step down if the bullet train, which was originally scheduled to begin operation last year but missed that deadline, did not begin service in October.

"You should put your heart into this and not keep thinking about holding onto your job," Wang said to Kuo at the meeting.

In response, Kuo said she had not graded the two projects, but would take full responsibility as the construction commission's former chairwoman.

The construction delays in Wurih would not affect the operation of the high-speed rail, she said.

"It was never my intention to hold on to the job as minister," Kuo added.

However, Kuo's responses aggravated Wang, who raised his voice as he continued to question Kuo.

Eventually, Kuo could not hold back her tears as another DPP legislator began questioning her.

She restated that she would resign if the high speed rail was forced to be postponed again.

Returning from a 20-minute recess, Kuo said she apologized for her behavior at the podium, but added that unconstructive criticism would not help.

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